Anthony R. Miller checks in with tales of The Boss.
Hey you guys, It’s been a pretty crazy week or so. We just wrapped up TERROR-RAMA auditions, which went incredibly well. My play, “We Were Acting Like We Owned The Place Before It was Cool” will be in week 4 of ShortLived. Daredevil Season 2 is friggin great. And the basement at PianoFight is actually this really fun intersection of Bay Area theatre where at any given time, there are people rehearsing, auditioning, or running around in pasties. It’s a magical Place. But Last Sunday I got to go with my Dad to see Bruce Springsteen perform at Oracle Arena. I have many feelings, coincidentally, there are five.
Really? “The River?”
The Concert was billed as a full performance of “The River” with some greatest hits. Now, for those that don’t own every Springsteen record ever made, The River is a decidedly Pop record, the themes are bigger and broader. But I would hesitate to put it in the Pantheon of his greatest work. I mean, that’s just me. It’s not his most famous record, he never claimed it to be his favorite, but it does have a few of his bigger hits like “Hungry Heart”, “Prove It All Night” and of course the sad-ass but kinda beautiful in its melancholy story telling, “The River”. Why he decided to tour this record in its entirety, I do not know. Maybe it was just an excuse to tour, which works for me. Bruce Springsteen is one of the greatest live performers in the history of music, so if he’s doing a concert, you should just go.
Best Bachelorette Party Ever
All sorts of people like Bruce, he’s universal dangit. One of my favorite things to do at concerts is look at other people reacting to the show, observing their experience and connection to the music. On this night a big group of women were sitting in front of us that were obviously part of a bachelorette party. NowI have to assume the Bride to be was a huge fan, I mean why else would someone celebrate their last moments of single-ness at a Springsteen concert. Now the fact that they were at this concert was reason enough for me to assume they were roughly my age (cough cough, mid to late thirties cough cough) Another dead giveaway was at the beginning of the concert they were driknig, dancing and rocking out out. But as the concert progresses, they slowly sat down, danced every now and then, and one of them was actually asleep by the end. But not the Bride people, the Bride was there to get the eff down. She never sat down, not once. She was dressed in a tiara and a black shirt with “Bride” bedazzled on the front.The was not a moment when she wasn’t pressed against the rail with a beer in one hand and the other hand waving in the air. She never every word to every song and for all intents and purposes, there was nobody else there, it was just her and Bruce. I can only speculate what the show meant to her. “The River” has a lot of coming of age songs. So maybe for her that night was saying goodbye to her old life, preparing to move on to a new era. At this point, she is assumedly married, so congrats to her, here’s to hoping the wedding reception featuring lots of dancing to “Tenth Avenue Free-Out”
We Should All Strive To Be This Awesome At Age 65
At Age 65, Springsteen played a three hour set, featuring “The River” and then another hour and fifteen minutes of greatest hits. This guy has unmatched energy, he’s a friggin powerhouse. There is something so joyful and rewarding about watching this guy perform. Maybe it’s because you get to watch someone who is truly doing the thing that makes him happiest. It’s the kind of joy you only get in sharing something that is special to you with thousands of people who feel the same way. But man, at age 65, Bruce puts most 30 year olds to shame. It’s unreal.
The Religious Experience That is “Thunder Road”
Fun Fact, since I was 14 “Thunder Road” has been one of my favorite songs ever. It’s just a perfect friggin song. The lyrics are expressive and descriptive without being super literal. It’s a musical adventure making the most boring and mundane life sound epic. It’s about how any moment of our lives can feel epic and important, fueled by the importance of now, the desire to leave to move on, to be able to accept you won’t be what you thought you’d be, but there is always possibility in this life. So on this night, I finally saw this song performed live. And as those first few notes of piano and harmonica start wafting through the arena, the song feels new, like I’ve never heard it before, but I still know every word. It’s exactly the experience we hope for when we something live. That you are so captivated by what you’re watching, you can’t think of anything else. The only thing that matters is the words you are hearing, and the person saying them. It was like seeing a monument, or going to Paris or something. It’s not until the climaxes in a storm of piano, guitar, and saxophone that I realize this something I always wanted to see. And in a small way, my life is different, because of that experience. The experience that is everything you hoped it would be, this is what I imagined hearing this song live would be. In this moment, I am being rewarded for loving this song.
So, as I rocket into middle age, I’ve been contemplating the nature of getting older. It’s not easy for everybody, the world we know changes at a crazy pace in your thirties. Priorities change, people move, get married, have babies. They stop being who you knew them to be. The notion of accepting you are not young anymore can be daunting. But The fact is, as I’m sitting here writing this, looking back on a really great week, thinking about how much fun that concert was and all the things I did right to experience these things, I smile. The fact is, I only miss the energy and sheer determination I had in my mid-twenties, the ability to obsess on one thing. I prefer older me, older me has the insight to appreciate his position in life. I think of sitting with my Dad and how far we’ve come in our ever changing relationship. I think of a 65 year old man on stage who gives the middle finger to old age every night for three hours. I think of things that I’m so happy that I got to see or experience and hope there is time for more. I think of the Bride singing the songs of her past to welcome her future. I think less about the things that are gone, and more about how lucky I am to have things that are still here.
Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth, But I got me a nice little place in the stars.
And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car”
Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer who isn’t always this sappy. Keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78